Confessions of a debt management expert!

You wouldn’t think a credit controller and debt management expert would have any kind of story to tell. Be assured that the role is a varied and colourful one. They range from “using heavies”, knocking on a drug dealer’s door and serving a notice on a ship.

Sharon Stevens first started debt collecting as a young “lady” at the age of nineteen. It started when she was asked to go and collect money owed for goods at a local car spares shop in Waterloo. The shop in question had been reminded on numerous occasions that the debt was overdue.

To help the customer pay, Sharon was given a couple of quite large blokes and told to bolt the door when she entered. Although she knew it was only a threat, she duly set off to fulfil her boss’s request.

“I got to the shop and walked in cocky as hell with my fierce face on! I had two big men standing behind me and I duly bolted the door. Luckily there wasn’t any customers in the shop. I didn’t need to speak, the gentleman owner asked if he could have a couple of minutes and relayed that he would pay.”

He paid in full!

That was the day that Sharon became hooked. These days debt collection procedures have changed drastically. It is now more of a tranquil affair with nice emails, phone calls and the odd stern reminder letter.

Serving Notice on a Ship!

A number of years later, Sharon went on to work for a very large “Port Company” at the docks in Liverpool. Whilst there, she implemented a full court procedure process. So instead of out-sourcing bad debt to solicitors or debt collectors, which was costly, she was able to bring the full process in-house. This proved to be very successful and is still used by the company to date.

Whilst working there, serving notice on a ship was the stand out task. A customer had stopped paying for the mooring of his ship. After taking him to court, and winning the claim, Sharon successfully secured a county court judgement.

Rather than use a court bailiff once the warrant of execution was granted we instructed a well-respected Private Law Enforcement Agency. The “Sheriff” met me at the offices and off we went with our notices.

Can’t pay we will take it away” was an under-statement.

When I got to the ship which was a dilapidated boat, I climbed aboard what I can only describe as a health & safety nightmare. A rusty, worthless, skeleton of a boat was now seized. It was the defendants “pride and joy” (he was probably laughing somewhere thinking thank goodness that’s gone and debt paid.)

The Farmer & The Drug Dealer

A few years later whilst working as a free-lance credit management consultant, Sharon was asked by a farm owner to collect a debt owed from a person storing a container on his farm.

“He gave me the name and where he thought he lived but no phone number. I began searching for the debtor’s address using the normal channels for obtaining such information. However I couldn’t find anything.

I then did a general search using google and plenty of information appeared. It was mostly newspaper articles about his “police activity”. I was quickly aware that I was dealing with a criminal and asked myself if I should continue………I decided to go ahead and have a go, after all I do love a challenge.”

This gentleman had been made a bankrupt recently and was listed in a well-known Newspapers’ insolvency/bankrupt pages with the address of the business which also happened to be is home address.

Bullet Holes & Cameras…

“Off I went to the estate where he potentially lived, with a companion, just in case anything nasty happened. When I got there a neighbour was walking his dogs so I asked if he knew if “MR XYZ” lived there. He confirmed that he did and I tentatively walked up the path of the house, only to find cameras everywhere and bullet holes plastered over the front of the house! I did find the courage to knock at the door but nobody came, so I posted a Notice Before Proceedings letter through his door and ran.

I few hours later I received a phone call from the said debtor asking how the hell I found him? I didn’t tell him how and only said “I have my methods”. To my surprise he asked if we could meet at a local pub and said that he would pay the debt and pay 6 months in advance! Thankfully, when I met him he was very respectful and duly paid the money owed and the advance payment.”

Needless to say the farmer still works with Sharon to this day to collect any rogue payers.

Most of the time it is credit control collections as usual. Friendly, happy, personable credit control that creates and builds upon customer relations for the clients that we do it for. But every now and again a surprising collection will pop up.

Sharon Stevens

Franklin James Credit Management